Kirk Evans Blog

.NET From a Markup Perspective

Free The People... F Apple.

Free The People... F Apple.

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Could it really, really be?

"We've got a pretty noisy competitor out there," Brooks said of Apple whose "I'm a Mac... and I'm a PC," commercials criticize Windows Vista. "You know it. I know it. It's caused some impact. We're going to start countering it. They tell us it's the iWay or the highway. We think that's a sad message. Software out there is made to be compatible with your whole life."

- Brad Brooks, Microsoft's VP of Windows Vista consumer marketing

[via InformationWeek]

Really?  Could it be that our marketing folks are finally going to commit to being a part of Microsoft?  Could it be that our marketing folks are finally ready to proactively market to our customers, show them what a digital lifestyle looks like and what Microsoft can really do?

I am so completely and utterly sick, as an employee and a Microsoft shareholder, of seeing empty spending on crap like "People_Ready".  Remember the completely ridiculous Office Dinosaur spots?  C'mon, marketing, grow a pair... let's see some results.  No, I don't want to see a retort ad making fun of the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" goons.  That ship has long since sailed.  Let's see what all that Microsoft money and some of the smartest people in the world can come up with.

Here are some things to brush the dust off the ol' marketing degrees.  Get Fake Steve Jobs in regular primetime spots making Jobs look like a maniac.  Make Sergey and Larry look like bumbling idiots trying to copy everything you invented first.  Make fun of iLife.  Show a college kid with an iPhone cussing because he can't read a Word document, and then another college kid telling him to send it to his Windows Mobile and he'll show it to him.  Get Jessica Alba in some Windows commercials wearing something really skimpy, make the censors squirm... do something that my grandfather would never have proposed in a business setting.  Get rough, get baudy, get raunchy... get the message out there in marketing that is quotable and memorable.  Heck, even if it's just raunchy and memorable, get the Doritos girl and the GoDaddy girl wrestling in a water fountain.

If I haven't been clear, let me make it even clearer.  "HEY, MARKETING!!!  STEP UP!!!!".

My MOTHER asked me why Apple computers never get viruses.  She knows I am a diehard Microsoft fan, and she certainly knows I work for Microsoft.  Yet even with me telling her that Apple is not immune or impenetrable, she still believes what she hears in commercials.  Oh yeah, to show how qualified she is, she also THREW AWAY a computer (yep, in the trash) because it got a virus. 

The problem is that Microsoft has been the schoolyard pansy for way too long.  The Slashdot freetards essentially defined Microsoft's persona.  That persona was then taken to the mass consumer audience in clever commercial spots.  Figure it out, take it back to the masses.  Step up.

Here's a shocking thought... advertise in cheap late-night commercial spots that you can buy the Office suite for $6 per month installable on up to 3 computers.  I'm talking during the same spots that the local used car dealers advertise in, during late-night Cops and Law&Order reruns.  Try actually advertising to people with little or no money that they can create free websites on Office Live (yep... go after Oprah commercial time), right after the commercials for ambulance-chasing lawyers and study-at-home professional schools.  Try advertising how cool Windows Vista is during a primetime show. 

Here's an absolute shocker... instead of sponsoring "American Idol" through Ford and Microsoft Sync (and almost completely losing brand identity to Ford's overshadowing), why don't we invest in a top show like Survivor or one of the CSI variants?  Quit getting jazzed because Virtual Earth or Windows Mobile shows on one single episode, make it an integral part of the show.  Ya know, marketing.  I realize we sponsored Rock Star: Supernova... now, let's try sponsoring a real show that airs regularly with high ratings for a change.

Here's an absolute braniac idea... let's do something about calling "searching the web" something like "websearch" or "search", instead of calling it "Googling."  Let's do something about the "personal media player" instead of calling it a fracking iPod.  That's not going to happen overnight, you need to start working on kids shows.  I can't believe that we don't already see Zune and Windows permeate through Disney Channel shows.

Remember the Kenny Rogers song, "Coward of the County?"  Lord, I hope it ends the same, where Microsoft finally decides to stand up for itself. 

  • Now that's some passion.

    You might know however that the iPhone can open and display Office Documents. Word, Excel,  and now Powerpoint in the new 3G. And it is hard to make fun of iLife when MS doesn't have anything to match it, especially when it comes free with a new Mac.

    Given that, hope things work out for you. I would probably take a vacation. someplace nice. Problems are everywhere. Nothing is perfect. It is what you make it.

  • "I can't believe that we don't already see Zune and Windows permeate through Disney Channel shows."

    Not with Steve Jobs sitting on Disney's board.

  • Please supply links and quotes from the knowledgeable people who said that Apple is "immune or impenetrable". Apple hasn't said it, nor has anyone who understands any of this and was being honest. However I will say right now that Macs are "more secure". They are.

    Similarly my Toyota is not "perfect" nor does it get infinite gas mileage. But it is better than the Ford I once had.

    Jim

  • I can't believe they let you work at microsoft, you're about as dumb as a stick and that is actually a compliment... Geesh, you need a vacation from EVERYTHING, not just your job...

    Grow up, accept that your platform of choice is destined for the garbage can...

    right where it belongs... with that computer your mom threw away...

  • ".  Show a college kid with an iPhone cussing because he can't read a Word document, "

    Funny that, I can read them perfectly fine on my iPod Touch...

  • well, i feel your personal commitment to Windows etc. fair enough.

    but the hard truth you don't see is that all of us - the end users, the consumers, the "people" - are not and have not been MS' real "customers". MS true customers are (1) the OEM's, (2) the "content owners" and services providers that want to "monetize" everything we touch via our computers (i.e. make us pay as much as the market will bear), and (3) the "enterprises" that want to lock all us employees down tight in front of our "workstations." Everything MS does is to empower them, not us. we end users are essentially an afterthought, our needs are #4 at best. hence MS' current image problem - the people are catching on, intuitively if not consciously.

    Apple, for all its arrogance, is undeniably a consumer product company. it makes its billions from end users who don't have to buy Apple products, but choose to. so it has to satisfy them, genuinely. and for the most part, it does.

    And the Google model? give it all away for free! (kind of). that's one that will never miss.

    Ain't nothin' the MS marketing department can do to change this. it's too deep. and then to make it even worse, there's Ballmer ...

  • As a former MS employee,  I empathize with you.

    When I was there, I was amazed we didn't address the ads more aggressively - not in a *reactive* way, but in a proactive way.  The company meeting ads were always so creative and hilarious, I was bewildered as to why that humor and creativity didn't translate into our marketing.   The sad thing is there are amazing, passionate, really good people who work at MS and they are overshadowed by those at the top who make such poor decisions.  

    But here's the reality. Microsoft is a shareholder company. It is not a company invested in *people*, and Ballmer in his prioritized focus of "developers" and "Enterprise" says as much. Windows software is fantastic for business. It is not fantastic for people like your mom and your average consumer because they don't know how to use it and it would appear that Microsoft just doesn't care about that. Where are the workshops and the community centers that would compete with an Apple store, geared to just teaching people what they have now? Nowhere.  And it's because MS implies you're stupid if you don't understand which buttons turn on 3D flip, or you don't get what "exchange" means.  And you know that I'm right, you've sat in those same meetings I have.

    People don't like what they don't understand, and they certainly aren't loyal to it. If MS wants to start creating the kind of enthusiasm for Windows, they'll do an incredible ad campaign and then  back it up with a place where people can go and learn. And that's not at a Best Buy where the employees aren't convinced.

  • Hah!  Thanks for one of the funniest reads I've had in a long time - that was great! I had no idea that MS sponsored Supernova: Rock Star - shows how memorable that product placement or whatever must have been.

    Look, it's time to face facts. No-one... I mean, nobody, walks around saying, "I love my Vista computer!" MS will never attain the brand loyalty that Apple enjoys, not until the day when Windows is turfed to the curb, and rewritten from the ground-up, with - as the previous poster noted - the end-user as the #1 priority.

    Those of you who live in the world of computers actually know very little about what makes a computer, or computer company, successful. The key is making the software (and hardware) accessible, easy and enjoyable to people who *don't* live in the computer world.  

    I've lived in both those worlds, and on both sides of the OS fence... and my feet have become firmly planted on the side of all things Mac. One day, if you're lucky, you, too will come to see the light.

  • Apple's ads only serve to remind people what they know to be true. If they were not true, the ads would not resonate with people. MS has only themselves to blame. Apple took to to pportunity to ask, "Are you better off after using WIndows than before"

  • Apple isn't stupid. They wouldn't put information in ads that isn't accurate. We all know how litigious Microsoft is, come on.

    It's sour grapes to bitch about what was a brilliant marketing campaign.  Time and time again in my tenure there I'd hear the same people bitching about the "inaccuracies" and I'd argue that highlighting flaws is anything but spouting inaccuracies.

    I think this entry is well-intended, but it follows why Apple is gaining such rapid market share. They have a lot of class, and Microsoft doesn't. They don't blame other people when something goes wrong.  And they actually really care about people - they really do. It's the center of their conversations (I happen to know a guy who knows a guy who works there).  It is in their DNA to care about *people*. And there's no way Microsoft will be able to be a consumer company that cares and an enterprise company that's sound.

    Apple started small - now it's getting bigger. MSFT made the wrong choice in designing for the big companies first, and scoffing at Apple while they eat up the college kid market. Guess who the decision-makers are going to be in 20 years? It's a brilliant move. And if I'm wrong, ask your MSFT marketing people who crushes in the back to school time period. It's not Windows.

  • What a bunch of Apple fanboys and girls.  Vista is an operating system, not a brand of computer.  People don't go around saying "I love my OS X" do they?  And what exactly is it that people cannot do with MS products?  Last I knew 93% of the world was using MS products.  Most worldwide businesses use MS products as do consumers.  Apple has the ipod, and their timing and marketing for it was and still is impecable.  Their Macs are gaining ground, in large part because of their attacks on the very company that bailed them out of bankruptcy and by a CEO who vowed that the animocity between the company's had uniquicably ended.  Apple, Google, Microsoft...they're all opportunistic, publicly owned, power-hungry companies.  Don't think for a moment that Google or Apple is your friend.  They'll get youre money one way or another - shaking your hand while they steal your wallet.  Cut all the rhetoric.  Mr. Softy has taken a soft approach to marketing and its image has been hurt by it.  The other guys have got the peanut gallery and "revolutionaries" marching behind them.  Interesting how Apple fans don't really say much about the iPhone, and then the iPhone2, and then the price switcharoos, and the decepting plans.  Also interesting how the so-called "free" stuff Google gives away seems to assuage the masses, while you're actually just trading every last pittance of privacy you ever had for a scrap of stale toast.  In all fairness, hit all sides with the same ferociousness, otherwise your rah, rah for your most favorite team is so transparent it turns the stomachs of intelligent, insightful people.

  • Jobs has succeeded to create a cult for brainwashed Mactards similar to Jehovah's Witnesses, so the ads are not so important. Dumbass Mactards would buy even a turd with the Apple logo at any price. Also tech media and blogosphere are full of brainwashed Maczealots, that's why so easy to overhype even if Jobs just farts one.

  • Look mate! Why don't you just produce great products that are easy and fun to use. It's really that simple.

    I know that would involve  a complete rewrite of windows. You could start by splitting the OS into consumer and business. Leave the business one as it is and make the consumer one object-oriented, stick in a compatibility layer and run unix underneath.

    It's just a matter of time before Apple give away iLife for windows. We've already got safari, itunes and quicktime. Before you know it they will port the entire applications suite. I wonder when they will port the developers tools?

  • I always find it interesting that the Microserfs and Microslaves accuse anyone who dares to say, "I actually like my Mac" of being part of a cult, when it is they who sound like they're Moonies or Scientologists.

    It's interesting that in Kirk's entire cultic rant, not once did he actually say he LIKED Windows. Instead, he just demanded that because they're bigger they should start acting like sexist bullies pushing Jessica Alba in skimpy clothes. What's wrong, are you all upset that there aren't a bunch of booth babes attracted to Bonzo hopping around screaming "Developers! Developers!" as if he just escaped  from a zoo?

    Zune? What's a Zune? Is that like a website where old Bob's go to die?

  • 'Do you smell that? It's fear, son. Nothing else on the world smells like that. I love the smell of fear in the morning'

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